I love fantasy. I love stories about parallel universes or the multiverse. I love Diana Wynne Jones. So why, exactly, did I not hear about this book until February of last year? (Which is when Goodreads tells me I added it to my stupidly enormous to-read list.) I can only fathom that a Magid was at me, maybe effing around with my fate-lines or something.
Oh, what’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Well, I have a pretty easy way to fix that. It’s called reading this book.
Deep Secret is about Magids, a kind of practical wizard responsible for keeping the multiverse in balance magically (the multiverse, of course, being the idea that there an infinite number of universes connecting in a chain on and on and on forever). Magids hop from world to world doing their thing. Rupert Venables has only been a Magid for two years when his mentor dies and he suddenly finds himself responsible for not only tracking down his potential replacements (who are making themselves very hard to find) and choosing one of them to train, but also finds himself in the middle of a burgeoning civil war brought on by the assassination of the Emperor of Koryfos, a set of worlds Rupert is assigned to. So now he’s got to track down all the Emperor’s children that he previously hid where no one, including himself, could find them, because he was a paranoid git.
But that’s just the summary. As I usually find with DWJ books, the real joy is in the execution. Her characters have warts, lots of them (sometimes literally). They make mistakes and get angry for no reason, and they frequently find themselves wrapped up in situations they have no control over. They are human in non-human circumstances (in this case, most of the book is set at a sff book convention). It is so much fun. Her stuff always has this lovely almost-tangible feel to it that makes you want to move in to her books and stay there. This is probably my favorite of hers since I read Howl’s Moving Castle. It wasn’t without its flaws (it is a bit dated, notably in the way she keeps referring to a certain character as ‘fat’), but I feel like it’s the kind of book I’ll end up coming back to over and over again until I can no longer find anything wrong with it and all that’s left is love. That’s how it was with Howl for me, at least.
Speaking of, totally excited to re-read that series later this year, and finally read the third book that came out in 2008, and that I’ve owned since 2010 and have never read.